stress; Asian Americans; Pacific Islanders; nativity; immigration; English proficiency


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Psychological Phenomena and Processes | Public Health


According to the Stress Process Theory, people who are marginalized in society encounter more stress than those in more advantaged positions. Immigrants are one such marginalized group in the United States (US) who may experience greater psychological stress than their US-born counterparts due to (1) severing of social ties; (2) social disadvantage and marginalization; and (3) adaptation to a new environment. This study examines the disparity in stress by nativity, and how social factors contribute to this disparity for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women. Data come from the Asian Community Health Initiative, which included a sample of 291 foreign-born and 155 US-born API women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Multivariable linear regression was used to estimate associations between nativity status and stress, measured using the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale, accounting for various social stressors. Foreign-born women had higher levels of stress compared to US-born. Stress was greater among women experiencing fewer socioeconomic resources, more discrimination, more acculturative stress, and low English proficiency. English proficiency accounted for much of the disparity in stress between foreign-born and US-born API women. This study contributes to our understanding of how stress among APIs is influenced by social disadvantage and marginalization in US society. Future research should further study how aspects of the immigrant experience are associated with stress among APIs over time.